In July of 64 A.D., a fire ravaged Rome for six days, destroying 70 percent of the city and leaving half its population homeless. According to a well-known fable, Rome’s emperor, the unpopular and sadistic Nero, “fiddled while Rome burned.” As with all historical events, much can be learned from their triumphs and tragedies, and here we can apply the burning of one of histories most powerful and iconic empires, one which was thought to be indestructible, to our firehouse leadership. Ego, pride, and arrogance are tenders to the flame of potential fires that can consume every great fire department – even yours if allowed to ignite.

Surround yourself with people who will give you honest answers, hard answers, to what you are trying to accomplish – and listen to them. Don’t think your ego is an asset. Will you fiddle as your leadership burns?


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